Category Archives: staff favorites

Best Book Friends


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This week we’re thinking about some of our best book friends! Who are your favorite examples of friends in children’s books? Who’s a book character that you think would make a great friend? Is there a beloved book you consider an old friend?

Ms. Kathy writes:

Chris likes to practice magic with her favorite wizard, Kathy loves being out on the prairie with Kirsten, The warmth of friendship overcomes Anna and Elsa’s “Frozen” world, and Deb sidles up to Pooh and Piglet regularly when Christopher Robin is away.

Ms. Wendy chimes in:

Here I am with one of my favorite books. It no longer has a cover and the pages are turning yellow, but I return to it again and again. I have had Favorite Poems Old and New since I was a girl. It is a big collection of poems divided into chapters: Myself and I, My family and I, Little things that creep and crawl and swim and sometimes fly, From all the world to me, and many more.

All the poems in it are old now, but they are my good friends. Some of them, like “Animal Crackers” by Christopher Morley and “Halfway Down” by A. A. Milne, hold my mother’s voice. She read to my brother, my sister, and me all the time. Others, like “Who Has Seen the Wind” by Christina Rossetti and “This is My Rock” by David McCord are special favorites that I almost know by heart. In this book I met Dorothy Aldis, Langston Hughes, William Shakespeare, Carl Sandburg, Walt Whitman, and Robert Frost.

Children’s literature is rich in poetry. Many contemporary poets have written wonderful works for young people, and the library stocks more recently published collections similar to my old friend. But as you can see from the photo, we have a copy of Favorite Poems Old and New in the library. It even has a jacket and you can check it out! Read it on your own or share it with your children. I hope it will become a friend of yours – one that that inspires laughter and wonder.

Children’s Services is celebrating

Kathy Bennett
Specialist, Children’s Services

Hello all,  My name is miss Kathy and I work in Children’s services.  My family has had a tradition of making Christmas cookies and cakes, delivering them to friends on Christmas Eve.  We’ve been doing this ever since the children were little, but now that they are adults, the cookies look and taste much better.  There is a picture of my three children and myself, along with some of the cookies and cakes we make to deliver.


Christmas Romania
Andreea Dobrescu
Specialist, Children’s Services

Traditions from Romania

Christmas in Romanian is Craciun. People prepare well in advance for receiving the carolers during Christmas time. Each member of the family has specific chores to do. Women clean up their houses, bake sweet breads, cookies and pretzels that they will give to carolers.  Males clean up the front yard, and make wood repairs. Males are also in charge with wine and meat preparations for the festivity. Traditionally pork meat is used for preparing sausages and ham. Kids are in charge with decorating the house and the Christmas tree. Carolers rehearse their songs hoping that they will impress the young unmarried women and maybe find a bride. The morning of Christmas Eve is reserved for kids to go and sing carols. They are welcomed in the front yard but not allowed into the house. One song I remember was about the star of Bethlehem. We used to build a large star covered with colored paper and tinsel on a stick and carry it around. That song always makes me smile. Craciun fericit!


4232778014_e4b22c7dc8_zSarah Dolley
Children’s Librarian

This might sound funny, but my family usually makes potato pancakes this time of year even though we are not Jewish. I grew up in what was historically a Jewish neighborhood. My brother and I went to preschool in the same building that housed the public library. Our preschool teachers tried to help all the children learn about each other’s cultures. My big brother came home from preschool one day and asked my mom if she could make latkes because he had tried them and they were delicious! Potato pancakes are actually part of my culture, if not my religious holidays, because my father’s side of the family is from Russia.

Christmas traditions have changed a bit since my brother and I became adults. My brother is a church music director, so he is always very busy at Christmas. When he was at his first job, I traveled to help him with setting up the church. When he started working at a different church, my parents and I would come to sing on Christmas Eve and have Chinese take-out with the choir. Now that our families have both grown, we usually visit each other after Christmas once my brother has had a chance to rest and recover.

Now that I am married, I have some new family traditions for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. My father-in-law likes to make a stir fry dish with shrimp that he calls “dragon’s claw.” We sometimes also visit our cousin, who has a huge crowd of people over and makes wonderful homemade Mexican food.

Picture Book Month

It’s Picture Book Month! Take a look through the Children’s Services department and you will see little notes throughout the picture book collection pointing out some of our favorite titles.

Nights at the Museum

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler was one of my favorite books as a kid, and I’m not alone. This month marks 50 years since the book was published, and many people are writing tributes— including some new children’s books.

Ban This Book: A Novel by Alan Gratz
“A fourth grader fights back when From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg is challenged by a well-meaning parent and taken off the shelves of her school library. Amy Anne is shy and soft-spoken, but don’t mess with her when it comes to her favorite book in the whole world. Amy Anne and her lieutenants wage a battle for the books that will make you laugh and pump your fists as they start a secret banned books locker library, make up ridiculous reasons to ban every single book in the library to make a point, and take a stand against censorship.”

One Mixed-Up Night by Catherine Newman
“Frankie and Walter aren’t really running away. Just like the kids in their favorite book, they are running to somewhere. Specifically, a massive furniture store. They’ve been obsessed with the Ikea catalog for years. So they make a plan, pack their backpacks, give their parents the sleepover switcheroo . . . and they’re in.”

As you can see by the big gold sticker on the cover, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler won the Newbery Medal. Mrs. Konigsburg also won a Newbery Honor for Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and me, Elizabeth the same year. I’m not sure anyone else has managed to do that with two books in one year, and it’s even more impressive when you find out that these were the two books she wrote and illustrated! The book has also been turned into a movie under the title The Hideaways, which you can check out on DVD.

Two generals and a dog

Ms. Wendy encountered this ad while enjoying Fourth of July fireworks on TV, and shared it with the rest of the Children’s Services Department:

As librarians, we all enjoyed that the letter about the dog is in the Library of Congress! (Follow the link above and click on “original document” to see it.)

When we hear a good story, one of our first thoughts is usually to ask “Is there a children’s book about this?” In this case, it turns out that there is!

George Washington and the General’s Dog by Frank Murphy
Recounts events in the life of George Washington which focus on his fondness for animals.

Little Golden Books

Little Golden Books are turning 75 this year!  Here are some memories of Little Golden Books from different library staff:

The Little Golden Book I remember best from my childhood is The Monster at the End of this Book (featuring Grover from Sesame Street).  What I loved about this book:

  • I loved Sesame Street
  • It’s the first thing I remember that broke the fourth wall
  • Like Mo Willem’s pigeon books, it puts the child in control

-Ms. Sarah

I remember getting The Poky Little Puppy for my birthday. We did not have many books or toys and I remember carrying this book everywhere. It is still my most treasured picture book from childhood.

-Ms. Rupa

I am not as old as the Little Golden Books, but when I was a girl I had a number of them on the bookshelf in my room, and I read them again and again.

We always had a garden in our backyard, so I treasured Two Little Gardeners by Margaret Wise Brown and Edith Thacher Hurd because it described the gardening year that I knew in loving detail. Gertrude Elliott’s illustrations provided even more detail, adding insects and birds, frogs, turtles, and little critters for the observant child to discover. One of my favorite pages was a cutaway view of the garden showing the baby beets, carrots, and potatoes growing underground surrounded by wormholes, rocks, and the roots of other plants.

The two gardening children watched the seedlings sprout. They watched the plants bloom and the bees pollinate. They hoed the weeds and watered “the rows…Till the dusty dirt was all dark and damp and wet.” When the plants were attacked by crows and animals, they added a scarecrow and a “raba-mole” to fend them off. And, oh, the results were splendid! “Day after day something was ripe and ready to pick.” Just like my family’s garden.

At the story’s end there was a great feast, a bountiful harvest of vegetables stored in bins and tubs of sand, and rows of jewel-like canned goods on the cellar shelves. A song on the last page summed it all up.

Hi Diddle diddle, We’re full as a fiddle

      Of things that come out of the ground.

      What we plant in the spring

      We eat in the fall

      And put up in jars

      And eat it all

      When the snow come falling down.

Time to buy some seed packets and go out to hoe!

-Ms. Wendy

Between the years 1990 and 1999 I worked at Western Publishing Company during which time it was sold and renamed Golden Books Publishing in Racine, WI.  While I was there I worked in three different departments; Order Processing, the Wal-Mart Team and Special Markets.  After Western Publishing was sold the new owners built a new facility a few miles away in Sturtevant, WI.  It was beautiful, and printing and production was just a catwalk away from the business side of the company.  One could walk over and look down through large windows onto the floor where the printing, production and packaging was going on.  I have always loved reading and the opportunity to work for a company that published one of the most well-known children’s book brand, Little Golden Books, was a great privilege. Now as a cataloger I reminisce each time a Golden Book comes across my desk.  It’s exciting to be on the other side of the process, bringing the items into the library where Patrons can come in and enjoy these wonderfully created books.  Some of my favorite books are The Poky Little Puppy, Prayers for Children, The Sailor Dog, Where Do Kisses Come From, and all the ones that are illustrated by Eloise Wilkin.

-Ms. Penny S., who gets our new books ready for the shelves

For more on the history of Little Golden Books, check out this book in the adult collection:

Golden Legacy: How Golden Books Won Children’s Hearts, Changed Publishing Forever, and Became an American Icon along the Way by Leonard S. Marcus

Beauty and the Beast and the Books


Beauty and the Beast was a special Disney movie for me.  How could a future librarian not enjoy a story about a book collection bringing two unlikely characters together?

I’ve talked to a number of patrons in the past few days who are very excited about the new live action version of the movie starring Emma Watson.  Hermione is definitely a factor.  For those fans, I would like to bring a little-known DVD to your attention:

b shoes
Ballet Shoes was a BBC TV movie based on a book by the same name by Noel Streatfeild.  Three adopted sisters pursue careers in ballet, acting, and aviation.  The book was originally published in the 1930s, but remains a favorite and is still in print today.


Beauty and the Beast also came out about the time that I discovered Robin McKinley, who writes wonderful fantasy novels with strong female characters.  Her book Beauty is an older title but still a great choice for an older kid or young teen.